Classic Cars in USA / Bantam

Bantam Cars History


This is the history of the brand Bantam since the establishment of the company and up to the most modern of vehicles produced under this brand.

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The first mention of the all-wheel drive vehicles , according to historical data back to 1901 , when Charles Kottayam , the Lanark Illinois Cottamobile built in Lanark.

This steam engine had a four-wheel drive with chains , like a bicycle . Naturally , the design was far from perfect, but its appearance - too avant-garde for its time. In this series of cars has gone only after the sale Cotto for his invention and patents Milwaukee Four-Wheel Drive Wagon Company in 1903 will fit that produced the assembly of these machines in a small amount of up to 1907 Since 1906, they built four-wheel drive trucks (early American company put Motor Truck ) .

The history of American -wheel-drive passenger cars , it would seem , began with the famous off-road Jeep. But before that saw the light of a little-known SUV Bantam. It was with him and begins the story of four-wheel drive passenger cars in the U.S. Army .

Back in the 30th year of the 20th century , the city of Butler, the American branch of the English company «Austin» start serial production of the famous small car Austin Seven.
The attempt to introduce to the U.S. market inexpensive European car was not successful. Already in 1934 «American Austin» bankrupt and disappeared from the scene . The weak capacity of the engine , high competition and other factors played their part.
In 1937, on the site of «American Austin» appeared firm «American Bantam», which suggested the U.S. light vehicle market Bantam- 60 . The basis for this machine has served all the same Austin Seven, but he was thoroughly modernized in accordance with the requirements of the market.

Power 4- cylinder engine capacity of 748 cm 3 was increased to 20 hp The engine was quite original in its design : the engine was the only roller bearings on which the crankshaft rotates . Bantam- 60 has been proposed as a sports roadster , coupe korotkobaznym and easy pickup ruzopodemnostyu 250 kg . Fun fact : in the design of models Bantam- 60 participated Russian emigre Count Alexei Sahnovsky . Plans «American Austin» were solid , for a start the company: to produce up to 44 thousand of these machines. But alas, realized they were not given.

By 1940, the American command , it became clear that the U.S. can not avoid confrontation with Nazi Germany , and we must begin to prepare for the conflict.
At this time the armies of the world were a few cars 4x4 , namely: American polnoprivody " Marmon - Herrington ," the Japanese " Kurogan " ( 1935 ) , the German " average off-road " vehicle " Horch -91" ( 1937 . ) and Russian M- 61 on the basis of " Emka " ( 1939).

All of these cars were produced in small batches and are, in fact, the commander's passenger cars.
In the U.S. army was put to the establishment of all-wheel drive car - a substitute for the horses and mules. Were established technical requirements for such a vehicle . The development of their engineers was conducted by Robert Brown and Harold Christie. This development and the firm was hired American Bantam, together with Spicer Manufacturing - manufacturer of transmissions for trucks.
Here are the basic requirements to book a car : the base 80 inches (about 2,030 mm) gauge to 47 inches ( 1,200 mm) Ground Clearance 9 inches (220 mm) curb weight of not more than 1,300 pounds (590 kg ), with a payload should not be less than 600 pounds ( 272 kg), and the center of mass must be placed between the front seats . Engine power - 40 horsepower and torque - 115 Nm . Of course, all-wheel drive . Also attached was a sketch of the car.
The U.S. Army forced the event. In June 1940 the organizing committee for the creation of the machine sent an inquiry about the possibility of production of 70 prototypes in 135 companies - both manufacturers of cars and parts. Dates have been exposed to very hard . Was given 75 days to all production . The first model to appear in seven weeks , then for a further 4 - the other 69 cars.

These tough conditions took only two companies - actually «American Bantam»
and «Willys Overland». Leaders «American Bantam» hoped to get out of the situation by upgrading existing structures . But it did not work, had to develop a new design . «Willys Overland» agreed to make for the suggested 75 days , only the first sample , and it was denied .

Army gave the order «Bantam», but on the condition enrollment in the state and the participation of talented engineer Karl Probst . It Probst and helped solve many technical issues , making September 23, 1940 , the first example of a utilitarian wheel drive car Bantam- 1 was ready.

Despite the awful short time , the result was perfect. It is true the car was 500 pounds heavier than required (his weight was 1800 pounds), but despite this he does not perform all that is demanded of him military customers . His confident movement on unpaved roads , the successful overcoming of mud, off-road convinced the U.S. Department of Defense , the production of . The machine is easy to climb on steep slopes and in case it might get stuck 2-3. Bantam- 1 overcame the first stage of the test length of 3,600 miles .

It was used also as a small tractor for a small gun , and as command and reconnaissance . We can say that the army ordered the car turned out . «Bantam» gets go-ahead to manufacture more of seventy cars for additional testing.

But whatever the rosy plans, and it became clear that a small company «Bantam» unable to produce such machines in sufficient quantities for the army . By creating an SUV for the army were connected solid firms Willys and Ford.
In November, they were presented with the first samples - Willys Guad and Ford Pygmy. A Bantam introduced by this time slightly modernized version .

Each of the three presented car was outwardly very similar to the competition, but had its design features. Modified Bantam- 2 equipped with the rather weak engine capacity of 48 l / strength, but reliable " spayserovskie " bridges . At Willys, ( externally virtually indistinguishable from Bantam) was more powerful , 60 -horsepower engine, which later became the main power units for all Jeep, and not very reliable bridges . At Ford stood at the 40- horsepower engine from the tractor " Fordson " as another it was not. But all three cars had excess weight against the value required by the army. But all the cars passed the second stage of testing - 8 thousand miles off-road.

In late 1940, the U.S. Army has made an additional order in all three firms - to 1500 cars. The company «Bantam» immediately took up the order. In the series has gone is the next version of the SUV - Bantam- 4 BRC. He had a simple , flat grille . Featuring many changes compared with the previous model .
Ford was able to start production batch of 1500 cars only at the end of winter. It was already modified car Guad name was changed , and now it was called the Ford GP.

A pilot batch modified model Willys began only at the beginning of June 1941 . But the company has carried out work in parallel to improve it . The third version of the modified Willys appeared in November. He nearly all repeating the previous model . Externally, it can be distinguished by the headlamps moved on from the wings on the radiator grille .
The company «Bantam», following the order of 1,500 pieces . , Continued production of cars, but it is not corny enough power - the company could not overpower the more than 30 pieces a day. The military is not satisfied and the company was forced to move to production of military single-axle trailers .

For mass production in December 1941 was put Willys MB - he began to produce for 75 cars a day. Since the beginning of 1942 started production of the same car in the same amount and in the factory Ford.
Most of the " bantamovskih " machines were sent to the Soviet Union - the first of them were there in the fall of 1941. Legend has it that the Russian , getting a decent batch of cars Bantam, started to pass them off as his invention. That is why the Willys and Ford have become " brand " their machines first installment , placing the appropriate labels on the tailgate . But with the start volume shipments of these designations have been canceled , though Ford disagreed and continued to mark many of the details for its famous brand of "F".
Bottom line: the release of all-wheel drive car the army during the war, was created a little more than 659 thousand cars Willys MB and Ford, and only about 3 thousand Bantam- 4 BRC.

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